Wednesday, October 08, 2014

A Petition against the Young

Man, Mungowitz knows me so well and trolls me so hard!

He pointed me to this Onionesque piece from the mighty Chronicle of Higher Education, requesting that journals please refrain from publishing papers written by grad students for (wait for it), THE GOOD OF THE GRAD STUDENTS!

I am not making this up. You gotta go read this piece.

Here's how I responded to Mungo when he befouled my Facebook feed with this drivel:

"LOL, sure let's ban the one thing grad students can do to empower themselves and keep them dependent on our recommendations and the rank of the school they attend. It has the side benefit of reducing competition in the publishing market too. Genius!!!!"

The argument, if you can call it that, is that students spend too much time trying to publish and not enough on their dissertation so they end up staying in grad school "too long".

And the only solution that occurs to the petitioner is to ban student publications.

I expect my students to publish AND finish their dissertations in 5 years. Many do. I work with them to make journal articles and the dissertation be complements, not substitutes. This is a common practice in economics and a fairly obvious solution to the alleged problem haunting the author of the Chronicle piece.

I've had some late blooming students who could benefit from a 6th year in terms of bettering their job placement, but since they will get some type of job anyway, I leave that decision up to them. It's a pretty tough call and I try to respect their decisions whatever my own personal take may be.


Brad said...

Always, always the English profs.

Jack PQ said...

Also, not one mention in the article of how the problem is that supply is large relative to demand.

Congratulations, you've done nothing to solve the problem and instead you have just added noise to the market by prohibiting articles. As if recruiting committees are going to read every dissertation to judge its quality. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Curious, Angus: It seems like this year, at least at my program, is the tipping point for switching to 6th year as the norm, which entails a little bit of a prisoners' dilemma.

The thinking is that the costs are generally low. Do you view 6th year candidates vs. 5th years differently? Your comment suggests not.

Angus said...

5 years is a strong norm in our department. Someone really has to go to bat for a student for them to get a 6th year.

When hiring, I definitely look at productivity per year, at least on the margin, and prefer (other things equal) candidates who did not linger in their PhD programs.

When you say the cost is low, It could be well over $70,000 in foregone salary to stay that 6th year.